We gather this morning to remember, celebrate, and give thanks for the life of Marjorie Metcalf. To comfort us in our loss and to give us perspective in our time of sorrow I invite you to turn to the Word of God.
Isaiah wrote these words of comfort from the Lord, “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you’ I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isa. 41:10
Paul wrote these words about having an eternal perspective on life,
We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal.
Finally, in the book of Proverbs we read this account of a godly woman. It seems to be apropos for Marge Metcalf.
10 It is hard to find a good wife, because she is worth more than rubies.
11 Her husband trusts her completely. With her, he has everything he needs.
12 She does him good and not harm for as long as she lives.
13 She looks for wool and flax and likes to work with her hands.
14 She is like a trader’s ship, bringing food from far away.
15 She gets up while it is still dark and prepares food for her family and feeds her servant girls.
16 She inspects a field and buys it. With money she earned, she plants a vineyard.
17 She does her work with energy, and her arms are strong.
18 She knows that what she makes is good. Her lamp burns late into the night.
19 She makes thread with her hands and weaves her own cloth.
20 She welcomes the poor and helps the needy.
21 She does not worry about her family when it snows, because they all have fine clothes to keep them warm.
25 She is strong and is respected by the people. She looks forward to the future with joy.
26 She speaks wise words and teaches others to be kind.
27 She watches over her family and never wastes her time.
28 Her children speak well of her. Her husband also praises her, 29 saying, “There are many fine women, but you are better than all of them.”
30 Charm can fool you, and beauty can trick you, but a woman who respects the LORD should be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned; she should be praised in public for what she has done. (New Century Version)
Please pray with me,
Our Father, we bow before you as the one who is ruler over all things including life and death. We ask you to draw near to us this day as we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Marge Metcalf. Help us to remember and strengthen our hope. We ask these things in the name of Christ. Amen.
Marjorie Metcalf was born July 19, 1921 in Burlington IA to William and Grace (Matthews) Bouquet. She married Lindsay Metcalf Jr. on December 9, 1939 in Palmyra MO.
Junior recounts that he met Marge when he was visiting his aunt and uncle who lived in Burlington. They were neighbors to Marge’s family. Junior suddenly decided this was his favorite aunt and uncle and decided he needed to visit them much more often than he had in the past. Their street became “his favorite street in Burlington”. Junior remembers one time he took Marge down Snake Alley in his Model A Ford and was afraid he was going to get to the bottom too soon.
Marge and Junior has a strong marriage and were blessed by four children. She is survived by her husband Lindsey or Junior Metcalf and their children
- Sondra (and Don) Porter of Blandinsville
- Dave (Linda) Metcalf of Blandinsville
- Dennis (Sue James) Metcalf of Covell IL
- And Dane (and Jackie) Metcalf of Blandinsville
- 8 Grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren; 3 step-great grandchildren and 9 step-great-great Grandchildren.
I did not have the pleasure to know Marge Metcalf. From what I understand she was a very conservative and fiery individual. She was quiet, active, and loving.
Marge was a woman who never went out without being completely “put together”. She would have every hair in place and always had a tube of Chap Stick in her pocket.
Marge enjoyed lots of things. She used to bowl, she liked to play Golf with her friends, she even liked going fishing with the kids when they were little. She played with a garden in the early years and helped out on the farm (even though she never did get a drivers license because she became too nervous when there was oncoming traffic.) Marge liked to gamble (in a recreational way) and was pretty good at it. She really liked the slot machines. She was a great cook and was very organized. Everyone knew that you were supposed to stay out of her kitchen! Everything was where it was supposed to be and heaven help the person who moved things!
You didn’t stop by the Metcalf home without eating something. It didn’t matter what time of the day or night . . . Marge seemed to think it was inhospitable if she didn’t get you to eat something during your visit. She also seemed to feel that it was an insult if you refused to eat something. Her table could always be made bigger for friends, kids, friend of the kids, or anyone else, for that matter.
Marge was particular. Sondra says Marge was a Type AA personality. She was particular to an extreme. When a meal was finished SHE was going to wash the dishes and others could dry. She was a meticulous housekeeper and it was an encouragement to the rest of the family when they discovered a thin layer of dust on the chest in the upstairs bedroom that no one every used! That event was like a natural phenomenon – something you might only see once or twice in your life! In fact, when Marge had Susan Monroe come in to clean for her in later years . . . she always made sure the house was spotless before Susan arrived.
Marge had a temper. She was extremely protective of her family. Like a mother bear, you better keep away from her cubs! Marge had opinions about things which she freely shared. She often made decisions for her children with a quick, “You will not do that!” People knew that there were certain looks that told you that Marge was getting frustrated, so look out.
- She would roll her eyes
- Pierce her lips together
- And then double up her fists
When you saw these things you knew you were getting too close to the line and would be wise to back away.
If you were a snake and happened into Marge’s yard, you were not going to last long. She went any snake . . . with the lawn mower, with the spade, hoe, or whatever she had handy. She was fast and could even get the blue racer snakes. She didn’t care much for moles either. They didn’t stay long in her yard.
Some of the Marge’s most cherished memories were the several trips she took out west with Junior, Don and Sondra. They really enjoyed seeing the various sights and enjoyed the travel together. Junior remembers the long trips through the dessert. Marge remembered vividly her trip to the Grand Canyon. She didn’t remember the view as much as she remembered Sondra getting to close to the edge where there was no railing! She liked going shopping with Sondra. She enjoyed being out and having the whole day to visit.
We can’t talk about Marge Metcalf however without mentioning that she lived for her family. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and Great-grandmother. She was a good mom and had to work hard to keep the boys in line. If the kids needed anything, mom always made sure that they had what they needed. She may have had to go without herself, but the kids would have what they needed. She was a loyal and faithful wife and supported her husband in every way she could do so.
There was nothing that could make Marge laugh quite like the Grandkids and Great Grandkids. Marge took her responsibility of spoiling the Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren seriously. When one of her kids would try to discipline one of the Grandkids, Marge would often say, “Oh, they’re alright!”
Marge always kept a candy bowl out. It was always filled with those after dinner mints. Everyone knew where the candy dish was. At Halloween Marge usually would keep her light off to the Trick or Treat-ers. However, for her kids she had usually prepared a big bag of candy for them. So big that it made the rest of Trick or Treating seem unnecessary. Marge told the parents, “Now you make sure they get to eat this!”
Marge had her physical problems. Early on she lost part of a lung. She had hip replacement and in these last weeks she was very sick. Marge was clear that there were to be no tubes or extreme measures. She didn’t want to live that way. She wanted to live fully or she was ready to die. She saw no sense in prolonging her death.
Marge Metcalf was a woman of character. She was a moral woman with deep convictions. She did what was right and expected others to do the same. She gave everything she had to life and she lived right up until she died. Marge would not want us to stop and spend much time grieving. Like a relay runner, she has run her part of the race and now she hands the baton off to us. She would not want us to stand around . . . because the race isn’t over. Our leg of the race is yet to be run. May God help us to run as well as Marge has run her part of the race.
Let’s face it, there is nothing fun about a funeral. As we gather today our hearts are heavy. You are never ready to let go of the people you love. It doesn’t matter how much you expected death or how prepared you thought you were, you are never ready to let go of someone you love.
I want to share a couple of things today. First, I want you to know that grief is normal. It’s ok to cry. It’s normal to be angry. It’s appropriate to be numb and perhaps feel nothing. When you love someone, it hurts to lose that person. When you love someone sometimes you care so much that you physically can’t comprehend the loss, so your system shuts down for a while. You get numb. This is God’s way of helping us cope.
In the Bible we read examples of people who grieved. When King David’s infant son was dying, he fasted, prayed, and pleaded with God to save the child’s life. But the child died. When his older son died he wept loudly. Abraham mourned for his wife Sarah. Jeremiah wept over the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus his friend. Tears are appropriate. Author Max Lucado writes,
Those tiny drops of humanity. Those round, wet balls of fluid that tumble from our eyes, creep down our cheeks, and splash on the floor of our hearts. They are always present at such times. They should be, that’s their job. They are miniature messengers; on call twenty-four hours a day to substitute for crippled words. They drip, drop, and pour from the corner of our souls, carrying with them the deepest emotions we possess. They tumble down our faces with announcements that range from the most blissful joy to darkest despair.
The principle is simple; when words are most empty, tears are most apt.
A tearstain on a letter says much more than the sum of all its words. A tear falling on a casket says what a spoken farewell never could. What summons a mother’s compassion and concern more quickly than a tear on a child’s cheek? What gives more support than a sympathetic tear on the face of a friend?
That task, my friend, was left for the tears.
(Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior.)
Grief is normal and appropriate. Marge wouldn’t want you to stand at her grave and weep . . .but tears are fitting. Do not be embarrassed by your grief . . . it testifies to your love.
There is a second thing I need to say to you: there is more to life than what we see.
In some respects, it’s easy to dismiss the whole notion of life beyond the grave as something we need to say in order to get through the hard times. But I don’t think eternity is an illusion. The greatest piece of evidence for life beyond the grave is the Resurrection of Jesus. The factual nature of this event is, I believe, overwhelming. The facts detail the reality of His death. The tomb was empty even though it was put under guard. People saw Jesus alive for weeks after His death. Those who saw Him were transformed and emboldened by their encounter. There has been no fact more examined over the centuries than the Resurrection, and no one can give any evidence that Jesus did not rise from the grave. All of the evidence points in the other direction.
So, If Jesus rose from the dead then there must be life beyond the grave. If He rose from the grave, then He should be the One we listen to and follow. If Jesus rose from the dead, then we can have hope even in the midst of our own sadness and grief.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11)
This is a significant statement. When Jesus said this, He was talking to his dear friends, Mary and Martha at the funeral of their brother, Lazarus. There are three key points in these words that you need to hear today. First, notice the promise: “He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Jesus says there is life beyond the grave. At another time Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you so that you may be where I am.”
The Bible’s teaching is consistent. Death is not the end. There is an existence and life that extends beyond the grave. It is a life that starts the moment we believe and extend on into eternity. It is a life that makes this life seem like only a moment. There are two possible destinations: Heaven and Hell. The life called Heaven is described in the Bible as a time and place filled with unimaginable joy and the elimination of all that is evil or painful. We are told “God will wipe away every tear from their eye.”
Practically, this means that though we grieve for Marjorie, we are really grieving for ourselves. We grieve for our loss, not hers. She has been delivered from her suffering. She has entered into her eternity. We say she has “gone” but in reality, she has simply “gone on”. She can see, hear, and feel like she never has before.
Second, notice the condition of the promise, “He who believes in me.” There are two common views about Heaven. One view seems to say that everyone who dies goes to Heaven . . . . .except maybe the really really bad people. The other view says that those people who live good lives go to Heaven. The Bible says neither is true.
The Bible tells us that none of us have lived good enough lives to earn God’s favor or what we often think of as “heaven”. Heaven is for those who are holy and none of us meet that requirement. Even the best of us sin . . . and that with great regularity. Think about it, even if we only sinned (did what was wrong in God’s eyes either in thought, word, or deed) three times a day (which would be a staggeringly very good day for most of us), that would be 21 times a week . . . almost a thousand times a year! By the end of our lives we would have committed tens of thousands of sins. Our sin-debt is greater than we could ever hope to pay. We don’t even come close to the goodness required for Heaven.
That’s where Jesus comes on the scene. The Bible tells us that Jesus died to pay for the sin we have committed. The only condition is that we are truly sorry for our wrong-doing and that we are willing to put our hope and confidence in Him. The Bible is clear, only those who sincerely and truly trust Jesus Christ will be granted Heaven. For the Christian, death is not the end of the story; it is merely the end of the introduction to the story. Death is meant to be a time of transition. It is designed by God to lead to a time of new life, reunion and celebration.
I didn’t know Marjorie. I don’t know how she felt about God or what she believed about Christ. I don’t know why she never became involved in a church. What I do know is that if she had any sincere trust in Him, she is enjoying the blessing of Heaven today. I know if she cried out to Him (even in the last moments of her life) and forgiveness and life . . . she can claim the promise of the thief on the cross next to Jesus that “today she is in paradise”.
Finally, note the important question that Jesus asked. Jesus had basically told these two sisters what I have just told you. Then Jesus asked them a pointed question: : “Do you believe this?” The answer to this questions make a world of difference in how you face this day. It is either the height of meaninglessness (we live, we die, that’s it) or it is a day when we put our hope in the promise of God and in the life that comes alone through Jesus Christ.
Your loss is still going to hurt. Marjorie is still gone. That fact is painful. However, whether you grieve with a sense of hope or with a sense of despair is dependent on how you respond to the Lord. His arms are open. I pray you will run to Him.
So, I encourage you to remember. Share your stories about Marjorie. Laugh about the fun times, and the silly times. Celebrate the things she taught you and how much she meant to you. Remember her well. Celebrate her life and grieve for your loss.
Let me conclude by reminding you of some of the life lessons that Marge taught us,
- Little children are a treasure and we should stop nagging them all the time and just enjoy them while we can.
- Life works best when everything is in order
- There is no better way to show hospitality to someone than to give them something to eat.
- We have our place, the snakes have theirs, and the two do not overlap.
- There are things that are right, there are things that are wrong, and there really aren’t many things that are in between.
- Finally . . . if you are blessed with a good man; love him. If you are blessed with children; cherish them. For if you do these things, you will be remembered and cherished long after you die.
Gracious Father, you are the author of life. You are the one who brought Marjorie Metcalf into the world. Thank you for her life. Thank you for the things she taught us. Thank you for the love she extended. Thank you for the character she displayed. Father, I ask that you extend to Marge your mercy and your grace.
I pray for this family. Help them in this time of grief. Help them to remember stories and events long forgotten. Help them to celebrate what they shared together and too often took for granted. Help them to cherish each other.
Lord, please help Junior in this time of severe loss. For almost 68 years he and Marge have been partners. The hole left in his life is something we can’t imagine. Help him in this time of emptiness and loss. Grant him your comfort and your strength.
Help our memories to remain vivid. Grant us strength in those times when the grief overwhelms us, and help us to carry on in a way that would honor Marge’s memory.